That end-of-trip, reflective post
01.08.2012 - 02.08.2012
So here I am again. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was writing a similar, reflective, end-of-trip post, 2 1/2 years ago as my year around the world was winding down.
This has definitely been a different kind of trip. When I set out to see the world 3 years ago, I was naive and young, so open to all the new experiences that were thrown my way. This time was different - I'd chosen more difficult, more off the beaten track places to visit (hello, Mozambique!), I'm a more experienced traveler, and I was a bit more prepared for travel in Africa.
It's been an amazing trip. I've collected a few more unbelievable travel stories, seen some of Africa's most beautiful places, and met amazing people. It's the people I meet who always make my trip what it is, the other travelers, who are all making their way through Africa for such different reasons, and the locals, who force me to look at my own life in a different way. I love to meet people who have completely different view points, experiences, opinions than I do; they expand my own horizons and make me look at life, and my own small problems, in a slightly different way. This is one of the best things about traveling.
Traveling in Africa is not at all easy. There were times, when I was crammed in a chapa in Mozambique, or struggling to find someone, anyone, who knew where we were supposed to go in Ghana, that the challenges and frustrations of traveling here made me fed up and ready to go home. But the amazing thing about traveling here is that right when you're at the edge of losing your cool, someone lovely comes along, calms you down, and helps you out. I love traveling in Africa because the frustrations make you appreciate even more what an amazing, beautiful continent this is. Ghana has been especially trying at times; working here is difficult, and trying to make changes is slow and frustrating. But there are so many things about this country that I love. The people here are amazing - so resilient, so generous, they genuinely want to know how you are and what you're doing in Ghana. I love the organized chaos of Ghana, I love all the little quirks that are so unique to this country. Even the signs here make me smile, most of them religious and all of them slightly confusing. Some of my favourites -
Let us Pray Auto Parts
Sweet Smelling Jesus
Jesus Finger Furniture (what??)
Blood of Jesus Nail Care (blood is exactly what I want to think of when getting my nails done)
Jesus's Fine Fashion (he would wear fine fashion)
The Armed Forces: A Friend in Need and Indeed (huh??)
Ghana always manages to make me smile no matter how frustrated and tired I am!
I love those little moments you have when traveling, when you realize how small the world is, how much we all have in common. The opposite is true too - falling asleep in the middle of the Okanvango Delta, surrounded on all sides by 100Km of nothing, or being soaked by one of the largest waterfalls in the world, or standing in the middle of a busy African market, 100s of people around me going about their business, completely ignoring me, I realize what a tiny little speck I am in the world.
This trip has given me a lot of time to think, about where I'm going in life, what I really want from life, what my priorities are. Things in my personal life are all a bit up in the air right now, and as I wait for my flight, I'm preparing to be flung back into reality, where searching for a job, a place to live, and some direction in my life will be my priorities. But always, at the end of adventures like this, I hope that I can keep some of my spirit of openness, my willingness to meet people and say yes to anything, as I go through "normal" life at home.
I've always thought that when I travel, I'm the best version of myself. I'm hoping that over the next little while, at least until I can get my backpack on again, I can keep some of that version of me around.
Until next time! Thanks for reading, pictures of Ghana to come once I get back home and have decent internet again!